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Fire In The Butterfly House

Fire In The Butterfly House
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-04-12
Categories: Insects
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 HZ DG Macro, Digital ISO 100, UV 62mm Kenko
Exposure: f/13.0, 1/200 seconds
Details: (Fill) Flash: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): BUTTERFLIES OF AMERICA, Insects' World, 70-79 Puntos (chapter 2), Butterflies III, Butterfly & Dragonfly, A study in Entomology (insects) 1, Butterflys of the world, Macromania [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-02-18 19:52
Viewed: 6499
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 80
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Flame butterfly - Dryas julia
Also know as the "Julia butterfly" or "Julia Heliconian".

This is another resident from the "Butterflies for Africa" facility in Pietermaritzburg. I followed this very active butterfly as it fluttered about throughout the very humid and warm butterfly house. Eventually it must have looked as if I was sitting in a sauna. Sweat was pouring down me so badly that I could hardly view anything though the viewfinder of my camera. The moment I brought the camera near my eye the viewfinder would straight away steam up completely and there was little hope of catching this butterfly. Finally I gave it up for a bad job and sat down on a bench to "dry out" a bit and then the unthinkable happened. This little winged inferno came and settled down on a plant not even 1m away from me.

I am sure you will understand it when I say that I was filled with complete and utter disbelief. Astonishment, amazement, and surprise, even shock, incomprehension, and a degree of bewilderment rolled over me as I was totally bamboozled by this behaviour. All I had to do was to sit it out and wait for this butterfly to come to me as if we were old pals. Why waste all that time and energy if it was as easy as sitting on a bench and pretending that I was not interested in this butterfly at all? Alas, if only the other butterflies could catch on to this action, but unfortunately it cost me some more time and energy to shoot the other beauties.

Taxonomic Classification

: Animalia (animals)
PHYLUM: Arthropoda (insects, arachnids, and crustaceans)
CLASS: Insecta (dragonflies, mantids, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, flies, bugs, beetles, bees, wasps, ants, etc.)
ORDER: Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths, and skippers)
FAMILY: Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies)
SUBFAMILY: Heliconiinae (heliconian or longwing butterflies)

Forewings elongate. Male bright orange above and below; upperside of hindwing with narrow black border on outer margin. Female duller orange, with more black markings above. Wingspan ranges from 82-92mm. Over 15 subspecies have been described.

Resident in Brazil, north through Central America, Mexico, West Indies, peninsular Florida, and South Texas. In summer it can sometimes stray north to eastern Nebraska.

Subtropical hammock openings and nearby fields. It frequents clearings, paths, and margins of forests and woodlands.

Males patrol all day for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly on new growth; caterpillars feed on leaves. Adults forage along a set route of nectar sources each day in a behaviour known as "trap-lining". It is a fast flier. (No wonder I was so exhausted chasing after it. If only I knew better then.)

Adults: Nectar from flowers including lantana and shepherd's needle (Scandix pecten-veneris), probably others too.
Caterpillar: Passion-vines including Passiflora lutea (the yellow passionvine) in Texas.

Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

rousettus, Tabib, Miss_Piggy, crs, ellis49, ramthakur, jcoowanitwong, JPlumb, Janice, PaulH, Aaltjie, jaycee, kjpweb, bobcat08, Hil, jmp, Ena, rcrick, joey, wuta, Alex99, Dyker, smitha, Rehanna, MMM, XOTAELE, TAZ, marhowie, jusninasirun, betsie has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Tabib Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 160 W: 5 N: 167] (859)
  • [2008-02-18 20:27]

Hello Loot,

Very beautiful Flame butterfly, vivid color and with F-Stop of f/13.0 the DOF cover all.
Very good story that accompanied it.

Hallo Loot
What a beautiful Butterfly. The colour is stunning and you have found one in perfect form, and good condition. The pose of this butterfly is really superb and the angle provides a great view of those impressive wings. I especially like the black lines around the edge of the wings. The details are terrific and very sharp, the exposure well managed, the flash work is great and finally the composition is delightful. Your title is much appropriate to how we felt being inside the Butterfly house. Very humid and flaming hot. I am sure from the heat, my face was the same colour as this butterfly's wings. I tend to forget about all the lovely photos you have taken that day and this one was a great surprise once again. Thanks for sharing, and as usual your notes are very informative.

  • Great 
  • crs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 469 W: 0 N: 922] (3551)
  • [2008-02-18 20:42]

Hi Loot,

That is a great macro. You have excelent clear image with fine details of butterfly's wing structure. Light is very well used giving nice bright color tones. Nice composition due to good position of the insect.

Thank you for sharing,

Hi Loot,
very good picture of this beauty. I like the pose and composition. Fine details and good DOF, the whole butterfly
is almost in focus and it stands out well from the BG.
The colours are rich and nice.
Well done, mf.
I'm back to the gray winter and the bad light. ;-)
/ Gert

How fortunate to have the prey chase the hunter, Loot!
I have never seen this flame coloured butterfly before, so it is love at first sight for me :-).
From a distance of less than a metre, you have done your job extremely well.
Thanks for sharing this stunning beauty.

Hello Loot,
This butterfly has a stunning color. Flame butterfly name describes this feature well. The butterfly is isolated from the off background nicely. Great composition. TFS,

Hi Loot
Die mooiste onder die mooies!!!! -Het nog nooit self gesien nie, maar jy is verseker gelukkig om dit te kon beleef.

Goed gedoen Loot

  • Great 
  • JPlumb Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
  • [2008-02-18 23:51]

Hi Loot, good sharp (for the most part) beautiful rich colour seen in this Flame Butterfly. Well captured on your part, (you need to take it easy more often). Great PP, I like the way you have him composed in the frame, and you've very nicely muted the background away from your main subject. Great notes.

Thanks, John

hoi loot,

Beutiful colours, want a little bit more dof.
sharpness is also very good.

regards Gert

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-02-19 1:15]

Call the fire brigade!!
I agree - the heat in the B'fly house is horrendous.
But this must have been an answer to prayer Loot. How good is that? He comes and sits down right next to you. And what a shot. Brilliant capture, good clarity, and your lens unfogged itself in time
Bravo Loot

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-02-19 4:10]

Hi Loot,
incredible almost 3D like effect you have achieved here. Beautiful vivid colour and very well composed too, well worth all that sweat!

Hallo my friend
Today I want to jump the gun, and not start by saying how good your photo is, but by saying thank you for the wonderful notes you ALWAYS write that accompany your photos. These one liners that some of these guys give and think it is a proper critique is for the birds.
I am glad that Ms P had to rush of to the kitchen to see what's burning, and that you could produce "Fire in the Butterfly house". Your photo is like a beautiful painting. Wonderful capture, with glowing and radiant colours and a nice flow of action to it. I personally feel that each of your photos is a master piece in its own right. This one is no exception. I loved both, the image and the notes; specially the NOTES. Outstanding work. – Congratulations.
Warmest regards

hello loot,
what a lovely shot of this so beautiful butterfly, the colours and the contrast is perfect, excellent pov for a butterfly shot with open wings, well composed shot,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-02-19 9:46]

Hi Loot,

I never knew there was an orange butterfly!! This is absolutely beautiful - not only the color but the shape and the wonderful markings along the edge. How lucky you were for it to have settled down so close to you!!!


Ciao Loot,
splendida la farfalla ed eccellente la tua foto!
Mi piace molto il POV e la luminosità di questo scatto.

Hi Loot,
most beautiful colors and stikking image. POV is very nice and color saturation is to the core.well done.

  • Great 
  • kjpweb Gold Star Critiquer [C: 326 W: 86 N: 1084] (4788)
  • [2008-02-19 10:49]

Excellent. This color is quite intense. Wonderful detail and a good pose make it a great shot. As I was told the "Julia" can also be found here in Florida, though I have yet to encounter the 1st.
Cheers, Klaus

Hello Loot,

Thats RED in capital letters (-: What a beauty. And what a sharp picture. You can see the gold line on here body. What a details. POV, BG are good. Good composition. Only the DOF on the tips of here both wings are a bit out of focus. Very good story to finished this beautiful photo. Well done Loot. Thanks for sharing. Greetings and TFS BOB

  • Great 
  • Hil Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 696 W: 13 N: 1407] (5035)
  • [2008-02-19 12:23]

Hi Loot,

What a stunning Butterfly you have shared with us, I can certainly see where it gets its name from the colour is so vivid and you have captured it perfectly, superbly composed with the classic diagonal pose and the butterfly is nicely isolated from the background too.

Great notes


  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2008-02-19 13:09]

Hi Loot,
Impressive colours and exact exposure to render all the beauty of this gem-like butterfly. Pose and composition give a touch of serenity and dynamism to enhance the extraordinary and pure attractive of this species.
Best regard mf,
TFS, José M.

Hi Loot,
Amazing beautiful butterfly and an its great macro. Sharp details, composition, POV perfect, splendid coloration. good and informative notes. Thanks for sharing. well done.

Hello Loot,
Really beautiful Butterfly and so well captured, the colours are amazing, the detail is excellent, just a splendid shot, all the best Cheers Rick :)

  • Great 
  • Ena Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 324 W: 61 N: 594] (2454)
  • [2008-02-20 2:30]

Hello Loot,
Great shot!
Beautiful combination of colors!
Good POV and DOF!

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-02-20 6:23]

Hello Loot,
sorry I must have missed this one!
What a beautiful butterfly and a lovely note to go with it.
Very good composition and POV.
Superb DOF.
The colours are incredible!
Sharp and crisp.


  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2008-02-20 11:08]

Hello Loot , AHH Sweet one from this vlinder ,marvelous to see this capture ,very nice picture great colours details lovely one ,I like it ,Greetings Teunie .

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-02-21 9:45]

Hi Loot.
I do not know what is the best: the pictured specimen of the butterflies, butterfly's surroundings or the picture of both of them. Simply amazing composition of the image, fantastic wonderful rich colours, perfect DOF and use of flash light and nice blurriness of the BG. I do not speak about note. Your notes are the best always. Bravo, my friend, and my kind wishes.

Hi Loot,
What an orangish butterfly, very intense! Looks like fritillary gulf we have here but without black dots. Superb close up

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-02-24 10:02]

Hello Loot
Sweating it out for this photo was worth the effort. You gave us a beautiful photo of a very attractive butterfly. I bet if you went and sit down on the bench without chasing after this butterfly it never would have come to you and you would have left empty handed, but as you paid your dues it looks like nature rewarded you for your endeavours. I love your very apt title and I think Janice had the classical response – Call the fire brigade (ha,ha,ha). Maybe you wouldn't have mind that at all, especially if they gave you a hose down first. Your composition is very nice and the dark background helps to make the butterfly jump out of the photo. I simply love it.

Hello loot,
It certainly looks like a flame . Very apt title.The colors are amazing as is the POV that give us all a very good angle to admire it's beauty. It's as if it is posing for you to shoot. So this pal of yours might definitely have wanted you to take its shot even though it gave you some good exercise in the beginning.:) Very clear picture with fine details and DOF.
Thanks for the share,

Hello Loot

Jy is reg. Dit lyk waarlik asof hierdie knaap reeds aan die brand is of so nie dalk enige oomblik in vlamme kan uitbars. Die skoenlapper is geseën met 'n manjefieke en intense oranje. Wat dit egter soveel meer interessant maak is die goue lyne langs die kante van die lyf, die wit spikkels in die oë, die spierwit voelers, die pragtige patrone van die swart are op die vlerke, en die driedubbele swart band op die vlerk rante. Die skoenlapper staan uit soos 'n nood waarskuwings lig in die nag. Skitterende werk.


Hi Loot,
Your efforts paid well as you present us such a wonderful picture of this unusual specie! I like this composition so much and strong brilliant orange color. Also, details on its body are beautiful! This picture looks like it was taken in the wild with this natural looking environment. If I have been there, I would have had much difficulty with this climate I know it... Thanks,

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2008-02-25 11:50]

Hi Loot
Very nice presentation.Excellent POV and very sharp image.Details light and colors are excellent.
TFS Michel

  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2008-02-26 13:55]

Hi Loot,
fabulous shot, very detailed and sharp.
Most striking are the colors, what a way to light up the room.

Hola Loot.
Un hermoso trabajo con muy buenos tonos y texturas.
Excelente encuadre y nota.
Un cordial saludo, JL.

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2008-03-12 10:41]

Ola Loot
Esta foto ficou impressionante pela cor forte da borboleta fotografada aqui. Otia nitidez e composição. E a proposito temos destas borboletas aqui no Brasil, e são esplendidas.

  • Great 
  • TAZ Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2241 W: 47 N: 3167] (10926)
  • [2008-04-29 4:19]

Hello my old Friend,
Your Flame buttrefly catched my eyes, this species is so wonderful ! His orange wings are pleasure for eyes !
The pose of this lovely subject is good to appreciate the wings. Sharpness is good on the body, perhaps f/16 for more DOF for end of wings ;-) As usual with you, a very useful and instructive complementary note. So, the good solution for photography is "sitting on a bench and wait" :-))
Congratulations Loot and thanks for sharing such beauties,

Nice job on this "Flame" Loot, I like the POV and comp.
Excellent light, rich color..Very good detail within your DOF, and the insect stands out nicely from your BG.
Well done!

Hi Loot. Interesting story and I had a few experiences like that too. The erratic and unpredictable flight patterns and short perches drained your energy out in trying to capture these species. Since I always work with macro lens, time to get them in focus leads to further frustration. Worse still if you are lugging the tripod with you. Interesting that it always work if as you mentioned, to sit there looking uninterested and the butterfly might come to you and even perch on you.

The shot and the image is flawless. Perfectly exposed with clear markings on the full spread wings. I like the flame color and I don't think we have it here in Malaysia. You have silenced the background pretty well here in eliminating all possible busyness around the image. Thanks for sharing the note complemented by stunning image. Best regards. Jusni

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-05-28 20:36]

Hello Loot

A super capture of this beautiful butterfly.
The colours are vibrant and well saturated.
Very well illuminated.
Lovely pov and dof.


Beautiful colours and a good clarity of picture.Regards.Alin.

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